Mindless Duncan Driving

Former India captains GR Viswanath and Anil Kumble believe coach Duncan Fletcher must take the blame for the repeated mistakes by the players and call for his sacking.

CHENNAI: Former India captains GR Viswanath and Anil Kumble are pained at the way India performed in England. They are disturbed by the steady decline in the performance of the team after the Lord’s win. They believe coach Duncan Fletcher must take the blame for the repeated mistakes by the players and call for his sacking.

Viswanath, one of India’s all-time greats, states that one condition of success at the highest level is not to repeat mistakes. He argues that this has to be done since today’s teams carry a battery of coaches to monitor and detect flaws. “India’s poor show is because of lack of application. The players have been repeatedly failing and getting out in similar fashion. What is appalling is that we have a foreign coach and he has not been able to arrest the slide,” said Viswanath, who also served as chief selector.

All the top-order batsmen were sorted out by the English attack and more or less, they were out in similar fashion. “Fletcher is aware of the conditions (he was England coach from 1999-2007) and should have developed ways to see that the boys improve and come out of lean patch. I think Fletcher has not been able to do the job,” said Viswanath.

Should Fletcher be sacked? “It’s up to the board. To me, he is not doing the job assigned to him,” he affirmed.

Revered for his fighting qualities, Kumble echoes similar sentiments. “Thoroughly disappointed with the way the team performed. I wish I knew the reasons. You must ask them (players, coach) what went wrong,” said Kumble, part of the side that won 1-0 in England in 2007. Asked for his take on Fletcher, pat came the reply. “Sack him. But talk to him (Fletcher) and find out the reasons for the poor show and what he did to rectify it and then take the decision,” opined Kumble.

There was considerable debate on the choice of Stuart Binny for the final Test and VVS Laxman said he would have preferred Rohit Sharma. “We need 20 wickets to win the match. My choice would have been a bowler,” said Viswanath. Kumble was sarcastic. “Whoever had played, would it have altered the result?” asked the legendary leg-spinner, insisting it was a collective failure.

msd.PNGSpeaking of bringing out the best out of players, former Indian opener, the late Ashok Mankad had an interesting tale to tell. Citing the example of close pal Sunil Gavaskar, Mankad used to say the opener was not all about runs. “Sunil was a great player because he never repeated the same mistake. He was also a quick learner. As coach, I ask my boys to follow this trait of Sunny,” Mankad had said in an interview to Express, while coaching the Baroda side at the Guru Nanak College grounds a few years back.

“In Australia in 1978, Sunil was getting out chasing outside off stump. Once he realised this folly, he never repeated that shot. In one Test, he was around 90 towards close of play. He was in no hurry and got the century next morning. Every cricketer should learn this to move up the ladder,” said Mankad, known to posses a good cricketing brain.

So what is the way forward for India? “Have thorough introspection after the tour, chart out a plan and think the way ahead,” was Kumble’s suggestion.